After a successful Kickstarter campaign back in August 2015, there have been many eagerly awaiting the full release of Everspace. As someone who dived in early when Everspace arrived on the Xbox Game Preview program back in September, I too was eager to see what this indie space faring adventure would become.
The visuals looked fantastic, the gameplay was enjoyable, despite not having a massive amount to do, and the combat was just what I had expected from the rather exciting looking trailer. But that was nine, months ago and now it’s time to dive back in once more with the full release. Have the guys over at ROCKFISH Games been able to retain the magic of the early preview, or has Everspace gotten lost in the far reaches of the galaxy?
Roguelike… how does that term sit with you? How about dungeon crawler? If you’re someone who’s completely turned away by the thought of either of those then no matter what I say, you’re probably not going to want to take much of a look. But if you jump into every roguelike or dungeon crawler with the intention of besting whatever random enemy such a game can throw at you, then Everspace may just be the change in the genre you were looking for. It will most definitely bring a ton of excitement your way.
Everspace is pretty much everything you should begin to expect from a roguelike dungeon crawler, provided you’re willing to swap the dungeons for the far reaches of space, and your trusty dungeon dweller for a high-tech spaceship full of sci-fi weaponry. Besides that, you’re pretty much signing up for another indie title that is set to test your abilities as you face the inevitable path to your death. Of course, that’s not all you’ll be doing, there is indeed a story to sink your teeth into, but just how far you get through that all depends on your skill, or how clever you are with your upgrades.
The overall premise of Everspace is quite simple really. You take on the role of a pilot suffering from amnesia. He wants to know how he got here and why he’s here at all. It’s up to you to find out. This is probably the biggest addition we’ve seen since the game jumped out of the preview program – a fully-fledged storyline has been the pinnacle of update 1.0.
Forgetting who you are is however something that’s been done in many games before, and whilst it certainly serves a purpose for what you’re doing throughout the game, the story isn’t likely to be the main thing that pulls you in with each run.
On each playthrough you’ll be fighting your way through a number of sectors, each one more difficult than the last, and each one bringing you a step closer to finding the truth. But being a roguelike title, this means there will be plenty of deaths to contend with along the way. Fortunately, unlike other titles in the genre, death isn’t completely the end as such. Each time your ship is destroyed you’ll be sent back to the start. However, all the credits you have earnt on that playthrough can then be invested into upgrades for your ship. This doesn’t include things such as better weapons, or the all-important shield upgrades, which will indeed need to be regained once more, but the likes of hull hit points, repair costs and critical hit chance can be upgraded to give you a chance at a better run next time.
As is typical with games of this genre, each of the sectors – aka the levels – are procedurally generated. This makes for great variety in what would otherwise be a very similar experience. When you say dungeon crawler in space, it’s very hard to imagine a way in which ROCKFISH Games could make that work. After all, space, as we know it, is a rather vast and open expanse with lots of emptiness amongst the stars. But the way in which the typical roguelike features we’ve come to expect have been implemented into Everspace makes for something truly unique and original.
To progress through the game you must travel through all of the sectors. Each one however is presented similarly to a dungeon. There are a bunch of enemies, hazards, traps and resources littered throughout, and it’s up to you to gather as many resources as possible while surviving the overbearing attack from the enemy. Progress is something that can be made almost instantly however, with the next area accessible by passing through the green warpgate found. Provided you have enough resources to go on that is.
One such commodity that you will need to keep a close eye on is your ship’s fuel. Fuel dictates whether you’re going to be able to make that all-important jump to the next sector or not, and you can be sure to have a battle on your hands if you leave it till you’re almost out before heading off to collect some more.
It’s not only fuel you’ll need to be looking out for, as all of the various resources you can collect can be used to build and upgrade your ship, as well as letting you restock on ammo and action any repairs that are needed. This brings a great reason to fight enemies and explore each of the procedural sectors, rather than simply rushing through them and avoiding enemies.
Combat is an important aspect in this particular genre, after all you’ll be heading back through sector after sector, and sometimes fighting a lot of the same enemies until you progress to harder areas. So the fact that combat is such great fun in Everspace makes all the difference. The simple controls and the option to fly in first or third person really make a difference too. Of course, throughout the game you will often find yourself as the underdog against the many enemies of the universe, but with a great upgrade system and easy to learn handling, things never feel unfair or pointless.
Whilst the combat is fantastic and the gameplay is enjoyable enough to keep you locked in for hours, one thing that deserves a massive mention are the impressive visuals. From the first moment I jumped into my ship to the last, the one thing I have found truly remarkable was just how beautiful this game looks. Whether you’re on the run from a group of space pirates, jumping to the next sector, or simply gawking into the distance at the stars and gas clouds, at no point did I ever feel I had seen anything before, or that there was ever a lack of polish in what I was viewing. Even the cockpit of your ship is good enough to be compared to space simulator titles such as Elite Dangerous, and with asteroids, meteors and giant shipwrecks found throughout the game, everything on show is certainly at the top of the graphical quality game.
Everspace may not be your typical roguelike dungeon crawler in looks, but the beloved features that fans of the genre have come to love are all in place. It is really a fresh take on an overdone genre, and is certainly a masterpiece in what can be achieved if you are prepared to think outside the box.
This is definitely one you should be looking to jump at if you’re after another indie gem to add to your collection.